Remember when printed fabric panels were pretty much confined to kid-themed nursery prints? Such is no longer the case! Our quilt guild recently held a “fabric panel challenge” in which members were to select a panel and then use it creatively in a quilt. "Tropical Punch", above, was my entry. It began as a panel with the look of hand-painted abstract flowers along with a pack of pre-cut batik strips. I had lots of panels to choose from because I’ve got a bit of a “collection” (ahem) going on in the fabric closet. But this one went so beautifully with the batiks, that it’s the one that drew my attention. And I used all but one small scrap of it in this quilt.
This is the original fabric panel before I went rotary cutter happy on it. It’s one of two images that came on the panel. Interestingly, this challenge really piqued the interest of members and we had nearly 30 entries which was one of the larger responses to this activity in the guild. We discussed “what is a panel” because there were some questions about panels versus repeating images in yardage. We relied on the expertise of Judy Hansen of The Quilt Shop of DeLand who explained that fabric panels are marketed as such by fabric companies, and while they may have companion fabric prints, they are usually a 22”-36” length of fabric that contains a single image, or a collection of smaller block-size images. Sometimes they have a central image surrounded by smaller complimentary images.
Part of the fun of the challenge was the culmination in our luncheon held at a gracious member’s home. We enjoyed a lovely meal and got to vote on our favorite quilts in several categories. You can see that we took our work very seriously and pondered each numbered, anonymous entry. That’s me in the orange tropical shirt. Our hostess had a team of workers who set up the quilts in her lanai and her guest suite as if it were a quilt show. We wandered through the display and made our selections. Completing an entry is our ticket in to the luncheon. When our hostess took a preliminary count at a meeting of how many planned to participate, her eyebrows shot up at the number! However, she and her team rose to the occasion and did an outstanding job of accommodating all the guests and setting up the quilts in an area where they were hidden from view until it was time to choose the winners.
I am a happy quilter- Tropical Punch won Best Use of Color award. I’ve entered lots of challenges, and this is the first time one of my entries has won a category. A funny story about the voting- We proceeded through the quilts in a line and the member behind me came upon my quilt, examined the photo of the panel, and said to me “That panel is so pretty- who would want to cut it up like that?” Then she turned to look at me with a laugh and added, “What am I saying… you would, of course. That’s your quilt, isn’t it?” Ha!
But my day was not finished. My quilt also tied for the Best Entry award with fellow quilter Mary Ralph. You can see Mary’s photo of her original panel attached to her quilt. That was one of the requirements so that members could see how the entry had evolved. I’m very grateful to those who voted for my quilt. The cute raffia “prize flowers” are shown below.
Do you have a collection of fabric panels, too? The companion panel to this one is making its way into a quilt as we speak. I’d say fabric panels have come a long way, wouldn’t you?